This Swimsuit Brand Flatters EveryBody
Shopping for a new bathing suit can be wrought with stress and emotional issues for women. Between feeling too exposed and trying to find a look that is flattering for your body type, women are gravitating more and more to the web for purchasing their beachwear, yet still face the unknown in terms of sizing, fit and material quality. Knowing this reality, two female entrepreneurs set out to create a line of swimwear that would take any negative side effects out of the swimwear shopping equation.
Founded by swimwear designer, Lori Coulter, and branding expert, Reshma Chamberlin, Summersalt is meant to flatter all women with classic styles that are at once fashion-forward, versatile and five times stronger than traditional bathing suits. The collection, which is made from durable recycled polyamide fabric tested on Olympic swimmers for wearability, is comprised of almost 200 pieces. To further help women feel at ease throughout the purchasing experience, Summersalt offers an innovative direct-to-customer retail model in which women can order a box of six looks, in addition to a “surprise" option, to try in the comfort of their own homes.
While the swimwear industry, which represents roughly $28 Billion, is certainly a crowded one, Coulter and Chamberlain believed there is room for disruption. Here, SWAAY gets the low-down on what gets these two forward-thinking entrepreneurs out of bed each day.
1. When did you launch the company? What were the first steps?
"We launched on May 23rd 2017, just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. We closely examined the industry, our skillsets and the market opportunity and began drafting a plan of action. We really wanted to create a true direct-to-consumer brand and began working through the business model, the collection, the brand, the digital experience, fulfillment and all the other components that are required to create an impactful and scalable business," says Coulter.
2. Swimwear is such a crowded market. Where did you see white space?
"The swimwear market has historically been dominated by vertical retailers and licensed department store brands, with high cost structures and multiple middlemen. We know that consumers today prefer the convenience of shopping at home and expect quality for an affordable price. Summersalt cuts out the middleman and goes directly to the consumer to create a true direct-to-consumer swimwear category. By drawing from our extensive swimwear experience, we are able to offer our consumer a $200+ designer swimsuit for just $95," says Coulter.
"We created Summersalt to provide designer swimwear without the designer price tag, and a brand that stood for the way we live our lives - beyond the lounge chair."
3. Can you speak a little about how women purchase swimsuits? Is it a more difficult purchase than other articles of clothing?
"Women try up to 20 swimsuits and shop multiple stores to find the right suit for them. Purchasing swimwear is often met with anxiety and over-sexualized images. At Summersalt we wanted to do things differently and make the swimwear shopping experience easy, affordable, fun and relatable. We created exceptional quality for the price point without sacrificing functionality. Our swimsuit fabric is strong, durable and luxurious," says Chamberlin.
4. What is your fashion philosophy? What makes your brand unique?
"When we set out to create Summersalt, we wanted to create a swimwear brand for women like us. These are women who love to explore, enjoy adventure and live life beyond the lounge chair, whether that was a slip-and-slide in a backyard or the beach in Tahiti. Our collection is athleisure-inspired without being exclusively for sports. We did away with most hardware to make it easy to put on and stay on, no matter what the adventure!" proclaims Chamberlin.
5. What made you choose the direct-to-consumer route? What are the pros and cons of this?
"Direct-to-consumer is the future of retail. Our collective experience working with other direct-to-consumer brands like M. Gemi and Rockets of Awesome have allowed us a front row seat to the incredible innovation and ability to create a much better experience and relationship with the consumer," says Chamberlin.
6. Can you speak a little about swimsuit trends right now? What's hot and what's not?
"One-pieces are more popular than ever and women of all ages are excited about this trend. Consumers also really like an updated take on traditional swimwear and want to incorporate swimwear that allows one to go from the beach, to hiking, to dinner by the sea," says Chamberlin.
7. Who is your consumer? Can you describe her?
"Our consumer is a woman who values adventure and experiences. She is an active participant in life and needs swimwear that can keep up and look great whether she's sea kayaking, playing beach volleyball or chasing after her kids at the pool. Our consumer is also increasingly price-sensitive but expects a high quality product," says Coulter.
8. How do you market your brand? How do people find you?
"Social media is an integral part of any business and we want to be where our consumer is. Our consumer finds products on Instagram and Facebook and through people she admires," says Chamberlin.
9. Can you share your 5-year-growth plan? Are you looking to expand into more categories and countries?
"We have lots of exciting plans over the next year – limited edition pieces and collections, interesting collaborations, pop-ups including our custom popsicle cart, and bringing Summersalt to women across the US!" exclaims Coulter.
10. Can you speak about confidence and how that plays a role in this market?
"In the past, women felt like they needed to look a certain way to wear a swimsuit in the summer months - a myth perpetuated by traditional swim ads that show perfect models in uncomfortable poses. But things are changing - now more than ever, women are supporting each other and becoming comfortable in their own skin. Summersalt is a brand for real women, living real lives. We always want our shoppers to feel beautiful, confident and bold," says Coulter.
11. What is the best piece of business advice or learning lesson you've received and why?
"In a life of the startup the highs are not as high as you think they are and the lows are not as low. Everything is a phase and you need grit to work through the problems and make sure to enjoy the successes along the way!" says Coulter.
"The grass is greener where you water it. In the fast-paced startup world we live in, it is very easy to get caught up in what other people are achieving and get trapped in self-doubt." says Chamberlin.
"I really believe in looking to others' success as inspiration and really putting the energy where you want to see results."
12. How does social media and sharing play into the line?
"We know where our customers are and they are spending more and more time online on platforms like Instagram. We wanted to create an open dialogue with consumers and also create content that she would really enjoy.
We have a cocktail series every Friday called Summersalt Happy Hour where we share summer-inspired cocktails to keep our consumers entertained. Our consumer shares Insta-images, stories, emails and more about her adventures in Summersalt," says Chamberlin.
Dr. Victoria Bateman, an esteemed economist best known for her nude protests for gender equality, uses her body as a form of art that serves to challenge the stigma around women's bodies and women's rights, in the world of economics. In March 2018, Bateman attended the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society in Brighton stark naked with the word "respect" written across her chest and stomach. Unbashful in delivering her message, Bateman was determined to start a conversation.